Why Catholics Confess To A Priest
When Jesus walked the earth, He forgave sins. And men of those days marveled how a son of a carpenter could have the power to forgive sins.
But now we know that Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity and is therefore God. As God, He can definitely forgive sins.
So why don’t we Catholics go directly to Jesus and ask Him to forgive our sins?
We Catholics do go to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins but we go to Him through a Catholic priest. That’s how Jesus designed it according to John 20:21-23
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
In James 5:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another. St. James didn’t say to confess directly to God.
If you’re looking for verses which explicitly say that we need to confess our sins to a priest, you won’t find any. The Bible is not written that way, always giving detailed instructions for anything. Most of the time, you need to dig deeper into each word or sentence.
In the case of John 20:21-23, we can see that Jesus told His disciples that they can forgive sins. They can also choose not to forgive sins. It doesn’t explicitly say that Jesus gave them the authority but by logic we can say that He did.
Why did Jesus have to give His disciples the authority to forgive sins? Why couldn’t He just continue forgiving sins by Himself even after ascending to Heaven? There must be a valid reason. It looks like Jesus wants to forgive us through His disciples.
Did the authority to forgive sins stop at the disciple’s death? If you think it did then you underestimate God’s design and Jesus himself. God in His unfathomable mercy desires that all be saved. If the authority ceased with the disciple’s death, then how can those who are left behind be forgiven?
Does that mean that the rest of us have to go directly to Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins? But where does it say that?
The Catholic Church teaches that the authority given to the disciples was passed on through the Sacrament of Holy Orders. And so Catholic ordained priests forgive sins through the authority given by Jesus. CCC #1461
And that’s why Catholics confess to a priest instead of going to Jesus directly for forgiveness.
You will notice that God always uses something physical when He helps us.
God could have easily save Noah and his family just by uttering a word like what He did in creating the world, but instead He made Noah create an ark first before they can be saved.
God could have easily freed the Jews from slavery but instead He used Moses to lead the Jews out of Egypt.
God could have easily defeated Goliath with just a snap of His fingers but He instead made use of David and his slingshot.
God could have easily forgiven all of us but instead He required a sacrifice by His only begotten Son.
Jesus easily cured the sick people in His days by just saying a word but He also made use of physical things like mud in curing the blind. And only those who came to Him.
In order for us to live, we need to work for our living. God won’t just throw us food to eat. But He will help us in areas we have no control over after we have done everything we could.
It looks like God wants us to put an effort as well. He wants us to freely choose to go to Him.
There is always a valid reason why God designs things as they are. God knows some of us need to physically see or hear something before we can believe something.
In the case of confession through a Catholic priest, some need to really hear someone saying the words of forgiveness before they can really believe they are forgiven.
Many can’t easily believe they can be forgiven for their sins no matter how much you tell them that God forgives totally as long as we are genuinely sorry for our sins. Many have experienced that they felt Jesus forgiving them when the priest said the words of absolution.
Confession to a priest requires complete humility. It’s hard to say your sins to another person. And maybe that’s why Jesus designed it that way, to confess our sins through His ordained priest, so that we will learn humility which is a necessity in really knowing God.
If that’s how Jesus designed it, it must be the best. Let’s not try to find a way around it just so we can do as we please.
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